ANTI-ID EDITORIALS IN OKLAHOMA NEWSPAPERS
'ACADEMIC FREEDOM' BILL UNNECESSARY
[This is the third editorial from this newspaper against creationist/ID bills!]
The Oklahoman Editorial, Oklahoma City, 9 March 2006
A WASTE of time.
That's what one teacher called the proposed "Academic Freedom Act," and we agree. The proposal, House Bill 2107 by Rep. Sally Kern, is aimed at protecting teachers and students who want to talk about more than just the evolution theory of creation in science class.
Kern has said the educators are teaching evolution as fact despite arguments to the contrary. Teachers, she said, should be allowed to present other scientific ideas without fear of punishment.
The bill passed the House last week and now heads to the Senate. Senators should kill the bill. If they don't, then Gov. Brad Henry should veto it. This is an emotional debate. As Rep. Al Lindley put it, "When you have a wedge issue like this, people will see this as a vote for evolution and against God." Our primary opposition to this bill is neither.
This proposed law is unnecessary. Teachers are free to have discussions with their students, to help them think critically about important issues. We have to trust that they won't cross the line and go too far into faith matters best left to parents and churches. Is it a fuzzy line? Perhaps. Issues of science and faith often are. But this bill doesn't make the issue any clearer. Science curriculum would not change -- nor should it. And teachers would still have to use their good judgment on whether discussions are delving too far off the science path.
The bill's supporters say its intent isn't to teach intelligent design or creationism. But it certainly opens the door for that, and the courts have ruled that intelligent design isn't science.
Oklahoma students are struggling enough with science without getting sidetracked. Teachers shouldn't feel like they have to change the amount of time they dedicate to evolution just because some lawmakers would like to see more emphasis on the alternatives.
Current law is sufficient for students and teachers to have informative discussions on our beginnings. Leave it alone, and let teachers keep using common sense.
The Oklahoman, Saturday, 18 February 2006. [This is the second editorial of the Oklahoma City metropolitan newspaper against the teaching of ID in public school science courses. See below for links to three other anti-ID editorials in Oklahoma newspapers.]
WE HAVE no doubt some legislators feel emboldened by a new poll showing that a near majority of Oklahomans support the teaching of intelligent design in science classrooms. We hope they won't let the poll cloud their judgment.
Leave Science classrooms alone
It's no surprise that Oklahomans would be OK with teaching intelligent design, which supposes that the universe is the work of an "intelligent cause," as an alternative to the theory of evolution now taught in classrooms. We live in the Bible belt, and churches teaching that God created the universe and everything in it are abundant.
The legislative session began with several bills advocating the inclusion of intelligent design into high school science curriculum. We've said before that we think this change is unnecessary if not unwise.
The larger scientific community and the courts have made clear that intelligent design, also known as ID, is more philosophy or religion than science. Ultimately, it's up to parents and the religious community to guide children in spiritual and faith matters, of which the universe's creation is part.
State test scores show Oklahoma's students already need help mastering other science material, so it makes little sense to expand the curriculum.
Although Rep. Sally Kern's proposed "Academic Freedom Act" is one of the more reasonable proposals developed out the intelligent design debate, even it appears to be unnecessary. The act wouldn't add intelligent design to the state's academic standards, but we question whether it's a backdoor attempt to present intelligent design as science anyway.
The stated purpose would be to protect teachers who "present scientific information pertaining to the full range of scientific views" and students from being penalized because of their personal views.
State schools Superintendent Sandy Garrett said the education department's lawyer is looking into House Bill 2107 in part to determine whether additional protection is necessary. She said teachers are allowed to answers questions from students as it relates to evolution and our biological beginnings.
We side with parents who aren't opposed to other theories of the universe's creation being presented to our children. But that place isn't the science classroom."
Simliar anti-ID editorials have recently appeared in The Edmond Sun, The Muskogee Phoenix and the Enid News.